Getting started with data integration doesn’t need to be complicated, but it can seem confusing. Fortunately, there are so many companies out there offering data integration services, that you don’t need in-depth knowledge to choose the one that meets your needs best. Here’s what you need to know:
Data integration allows you to run your business more efficiently and meet your growth goals more quickly. When you share essential data between systems and teams, everyone in your business is able to access the information they need, as they need it. Integration eliminates the need for time-consuming, mistake-prone data copying and double entries. With consistent, high-quality data available at all times, you’ll have solid foundations for growth.
Consider what it is that you want to get out of integrating your data and what systems you want to integrate.
If you plan to integrate your CRM and your ERP (one of the most common integrations), you’ll usually need to use third-party software. For smaller integrations, such as linking your email program to your CRM, you might be able to simply set them up yourself very quickly using the native integrations included in your CRM.
Assuming that you plan to use software of some kind, think about:
- Price. What budget do you have for your integration? While data integration should pay you back in the form of increased sales and efficiency savings, there will be some initial outlay to budget for. If you’re a larger business in need of a custom solution, you’ll naturally need to budget more than a smaller business who can use a cloud-based system out-of-the-box.
- Support. Does the data integration you’re planning require ongoing technical support? Even if you’re able to manage most of it yourself, you might find that you sometimes need someone to call on for advice. Consider what resources you have in-house and where you might need some help.
- Security. Naturally, whenever you’re handling data, security is a vital consideration. You’ll need to be certain that the system you plan to use handles and stores data securely.
When you know your budget, support needs and security requirements, you’ll be in a position to get started.
If you’re able to go with an out-of-the-box cloud-based solution, you should be able to get started in as little as a few hours. This will vary between providers, but the benefit of cloud-based solutions is that they are simple to use with little set up time.
If you think you’ll need a custom solution, see if you can find a provider who’ll make it straightforward. It may be that you can use a cloud-based system mostly out-of-the-box, with some amendments or additions to fit your business.
When your integration is first set up, you may initially feel overwhelmed with data, and you might have staff who need some training. It’s important to remember that just because everyone in your organisation can access more data, doesn’t mean they need to. Be strategic about who needs to access what to avoid overwhelm.
Once you’ve got started and everyone in your business knows how to make the most of your integration, you should see the efficiency and growth benefits happen quickly.